A Guide on Sources for Academic Papers

Define Academic Sources

Academic sources are typically books and other published works in reliable scholarly sources. Usually, they are written by certified and experienced authors and provide comprehensive research about a specific topic. They include:

  • Scientific journals
  • Books
  • Reports
  • Internet resources (.edu, .gov, .org, .com)
  • Other publications such as almanacs, scientific data, biographical information, statistical collections, company directories, and public opinion data

This is how you can tell a scholarly article from a non-scholarly one:

Scholarly source

Author: an individual, usually considered a scholar, who holds a degree in a science-related field.

Language: an academic voice, tone, and style of writing.

Purpose: highlights the findings and outcomes of a research project for other researchers.

Publisher: an academic/professional institution.

Bibliography: lists source materials.

Additional characteristics: usually includes text, tables, and graphs, tables and rarely contains photographs.

Non-scholarly source (e.g., magazines, newspapers, and blogs)

Author: a non-expert in that particular field, for example, a journalist or anonymous writer.

Language: usually plain text arranged in a basic structure that an average reader can understand.

Purpose: informs, entertains, evokes emotions, and shares a viewpoint.

Publisher: in-house or informal publishing.

Bibliography:  excluded.

Additional characteristics: short and contains photographs.

Characteristics of an Academic Article

Generally, you can tell if a source is an academic article if:

  • It includes an abstract.
  • It has more than two pages.
  • It includes references to past recognized researches.
  • The author has a qualification, degree, et cetera.
  • It contains tables, charts, and figures.
  • The basic format: introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references.
  • The author uses terms and technical language used in a particular language.
  • The author is respected and recognized.

Finding Academic Sources

You can find most academic sources at a physical university library. However, you have other options, including:

  1. College/university online library
  2. The bibliography of scholarly source materials you have already found
  3. Google Scholar and or Google Books
  4. Government and research organization websites
  5. Online libraries/databases. You can find scholarly books, articles, and reports online on various websites, such as JSTOR, ScienceDirect, Open Library, PubMed, DOAJ, SciSeek, Science.gov, and VADLO

Strategies for Compiling Scholarly Sources

Here’s how to record your searches for convenience when compiling your bibliography later:

  1. Do not skip information you are uncertain about usefulness-wise.
  2. Exclude sources with information you have already gathered.
  3. Have three times the resources you plan on listing.
  4. Avoid unintentional plagiarism by paraphrasing information from your chosen sources.
  5. When making a direct quote, copy the writing exactly as it appears in the academic source.
  6. Avoid abbreviations, contractions, or code words when taking notes.
  7. When making an entry, ensure to double-check your notes.
  8. Ensure you have all the information needed to cite a source correctly.
  9. Have your instructor review your sources. He/she can advise on the suitable sources for your research paper.

Tools for Saving and Structuring Academic Sources

Taking notes when reviewing your sources improves your writing process and allows you to create the bibliography much quicker. When doing research, take a record of the following:

  • Citation information of the source material
  • The main question the author is addressing
  • The ideas expressed in the article
  • Data and methodology used
  • Key findings
  • Limitations of the study and suggested further research
  • Key sources cited worth checking out

Some services that may help you save and structure sources include Mendeley, Evernote, Zotero, and Citation Machine.

We hope you found the article useful. If you need help finding academic sources for your research paper or need help writing it, essay services can help.

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